“Flowers From Another World,” the second directing effort of young actress Iciar Bollain (“Hi, Are You Alone?”), doesn’t venture far beyond the middle ground of Euro filmmaking, stuck halfway between a commercial product and an art film. Though its premise is piquant — two Caribbean women partner with Spanish farmers unable to find wives — the treatment is so conventional that even the subject’s inherent interest is lost. Pic’s heart may be in the right place, but the lack of invention takes its toll. Looking a bit out of place in the Cannes Critics Week, pic has the easy-viewing qualities that could work at its local box office and interest TV buyers offshore.
Nestled in the harsh Castilian landscape, a sleepy town is dying out for want of marriageable females. To remedy the situation, Alfonso (Chete Lera) organizes a Bachelors’ Fiesta, bussing in city ladies in want of husbands. There’s a get-acquainted dance, with the whole town gaily participating, but in the end only two unions are formed.
One is Alfonso’s with Marirrosi (Elena Irureta), who finds she can’t leave the city nor he the country. The other is the central story of Patricia (Lissete Mejia), a mother of two small kids from the Dominican Republic, and the introverted but honest farmer Damian (Luis Tosar). Conflict is slowly brought to a boil between Patricia and her dour, silently racist mother-in-law (Amparo Valle), but the new bride wins her respect through hard work and seriousness.
In a parallel story, the sexy Milady (Marilin Torres), brought over from Cuba by a middle-aged man hungry for sex (popular thesp Jose Sancho), can find no place in the community and finally takes off.
Both Caribbean actresses, Mejia and Torres, make splendid film debuts, bringing a strong note of freshness and love of life to their roles. One feels they could have added humor as well, had it been called for in the rather dull script.
Bollain scores some points in contrasting the warm intimacy between Caribbean friends with the Spaniards’ cool reserve, summed up when one girl reproaches the other, “You don’t want to become like them.”